The Red Shoes
Never danced with a boy.
Couldn’t flirt and risk the invitation.
No rhythm. No chance.
I imagined the red shoes would do the trick.
Too impatient to save (Twelve weeks an eternity to me)
I distracted him; the Saturday boy
whose hands fumbled for bags,
whose fingers mishit the keys of the cash register.
He struggled to fetch the next pair
and the next
as I feigned tightness in the width,
a squashed left little toe,
a desire for a heel,
a want for a bow.
The scarlet pair hugged my feet.
I felt the urge to stand and jig.
My stomach flipped, I had to swallow a smile.
“I like these’” I told him, “But wonder
would black be more appropriate?”
He withheld a sigh and readied himself for the ladder.
“Top shelf,” he mumbled as he stood to fetch them.
Halfway up the ladder
I laughed and left.
Had to grip my belly to hold myself together
as the chuckles came and came.
My feet spent their energy;
a jig, a reel, a reel, a jig
I danced smiling at my new beat.
I roared as I polka-ed
my lungs grabbed for the air.
I could not find the oxygen within my breaths.
The woodcutter smiled to see me;
leaned back to enjoy the one woman show
“No, no, no!” I panted in horror. “It’s the shoes!”
He stepped behind me
resorting to an imitation of my steps to keep time with me.
I wanted to laugh at the big booted feet dancing with me;
Cartooning each step;
caring enough not to step on the hated shoes.
I could only weep.
He held me.
I trembled the rhythm of my legs.
Offered him one foot, one shoe.
yet his giant hands could not master the vice-like leather.
He pushed my shoulders away in horror.
I danced to his axe.
Shocked him sick when I struck:
One foot, two feet.
Sue Finch is studying for a Creative Writing MA at MMU. Her first published poem appeared in A New Manchester Alphabet in 2015. She lives in Flintshire with her wife where she enjoys exploring the countryside and coast.